Central — or intertwined, if you will — circular questions about Kings And by their goals, the team had lost three straight games in regulation play for the first time this season and passed it Edmonton For third place in the Pacific Division.
It was the opening of a six-game trip on Saturday in Nashville Phoenix Copley getting the hook just 39 seconds into it after he got two pucks in Predators’ The first three shots. But they also had a spirited rally in the second and the Kings seemed to be in control, taking a 3-2 lead in the third. Then they lost control, with Nashville getting three unanswered goals to win 5-3.
With that in mind, Sunday’s contest—not even after the 24 Hours of Chicago—represented a must-win contest at this point in the season. the Blackhawks It won’t be an easy task — they’ve played the Kings in overtime in the other two meetings and come into the game with six of their last seven wins. But as competitive as players might be, this was dealing with an organization in a thinly lined tank situation. In Game 49 in a tight split race, Los Angeles needed this one.
Needing to avoid a comeback that included putting up 6-on-4 penalties in the final 22.8 seconds, the Kings cruised to a 2-1 victory that provided some salve for the open sore. It just got a little more tense in the third than it should have been, considering how much Los Angeles has dominated the game so far. Ian Mitchell Scored with 3:15 remaining. But they managed the remainder in an efficient manner, and the plane ride to Philadelphia can be a relaxing and fun one.
“I think tonight is an example of where one game affects another,” Kings coach Todd McClellan said in a televised interview with Bali Sports. “Last night, we had that clue. We didn’t manage it very well. Tonight, we managed it better, but we got our foot off the gas. So, we’re still trying to figure that out.”
“We made better decisions tonight in a lot of different areas that allowed us to win.”
As far as decisions go, McClellan was a VIP in who he dealt with in the network. Copley got a quick hook in Nashville, which came on top of his Thursday substitution after four goals on 17 shots in the loss to Dallas. Jonathan Quickwho was their main man for the better part of 14 seasons, finished against stars Then he stopped 22 of 25 shots over Saturday’s contest balance. Copley’s struggles, however, could be where Quick could hop back into the driver’s seat after being relegated to the passenger seat.
Copley got the start on Sunday. The 30-year-old who came out of nowhere (well, the organization’s No. 3 goalkeeper role after signing a free agent) to provide stability when the Kings needed it most, has now had to reassure everyone who follows the team that their net-care is not a crisis. perfect.
What happened on Sunday is the goalkeeper and his team are back at it when they first jumped in at the start of December. The Kings played a tough game and didn’t allow many chances—the Natural Stat Trick had them giving up just four of a high-risk variety—while Copley made the must-have saves. stop in Max Domi And Jonathan Toews It was noteworthy. Otherwise, it wasn’t stellar. He didn’t need to be.
“We believe in each of our goalkeepers at the moment,” McClellan said. “Sometimes the plan doesn’t go exactly as planned. We planned to play Pheonix in Nashville and Quickie here in Chicago. It changed. Quickie got the whole game basically and Pheonix got the game here. So, I’m happy for both of them.”
Even as Cal Petersen was with them until his rocky start landed him in the American Hockey League, McClellan was careful not to favor one goaltender over another. The veteran coach also has to support the 37-year-old Quick due to his Stanley Cup-winning legacy with the Kings. McClellan also needs to find consistency to be a reliable option if Copley falters. Kings general manager Rob Blake should look at the availability of goaltenders around the league, but the pressure to bring in someone will increase if Copley or Quick aren’t their backbone.
With another winnable game tuesday in philadelphia before the trip swings to florida and Carolina, the Kings need to stabilize their net and continue to play a tight game that has been going 10-2-1 lately. Sunday’s effort was similar to that. And after two rough starts, Copley calmed some jittery minds for one night.
“Obviously that’s frustrating,” Copley said of his early hook on Saturday. “I take it personally. Well, I went out and wanted to do my best for the players and the team. I’m happy we got the win.”
The attack force was an unexpected scorer in Jarrett Anderson Dolan. The 23-year-old winger started the season as an extra striker and was a healthy scratch throughout the first month of the season. infection Brendan Lemieux Gave him a chance. Anderson-Dolan remained in the lineup even with Lemieux back due to his tireless effort night after night.
This was his night for aggressive brilliance. Kevin Fiala, their leading scorer and All-Star representative, played a huge role. But you had to finish off those great chances that came your way and Anderson Dolan did just that in the first and second periods, following up with a rebound after he stopped Chicago keeper Fiala. Peter Marazek He broke away and then beat Marazek after he worked to open up and get Sterling’s elephant fodder.
That’s what the Kings needed, especially since their depth was tested with four forwards missing through injury. Trevor Moore And Arthur Calieff they haven’t played yet in 2023, Carl Grundstrom He suffered a lower body injury in practice and was knocked out by the All-Star break Gabriel Villardi To Southern California for a re-evaluation.
Anderson Dolan scored his fourth and fifth goals of the season, bringing his career total to 12 goals in 84 games. NHL Toys. Anderson Dolan said the first goal was one of the easiest he’d scored but that it was the result of staying with Fiala’s breakaway rush and heading home. But the second came from the creativity that Fiala showed in his first season with the Kings.
“It looks like he’s shooting and he’s coming at you,” said Anderson Dolan. “And vice versa. He seems to pass as he shoots. A really skilful player and he certainly should be aware. At the same time, it’s fun to play with guys like that who make great plays. You obviously set me up twice tonight.”
The other notable development was Alex Turcotte In his first appearance of the season with the Kings. It’s been an injury-riddled road to being selected #5 in the 2019 draft. Turcotte has had to contend with multiple concussions since playing in Wisconsin through the AHL with the Ontario Reign. He could not participate in the Kings Camp during the summer and fall. A lower body injury also kept him from some action after he was cleared to play in November.
The 21-year-old persevered and played well for the Reign, putting up 12 points in 18 games. It earned him a promotion to the Troubled Parents Club. It was special to play in Chicago as he was the son of former NHL player Alfie Turcotte who grew up in nearby Elk Grove and played midget hockey in Illinois.
“Yes, it was clearly a dream come true,” said Turcotte. “When they started singing the national anthem, I remember coming to the games as a kid and that’s what they’re known for. I kind of got goosebumps. I was just so excited. You have so many friends and family here. I had so much fun there.”
Turcotte played on the fourth line with her youth teammates Rasmus Coppari And Samuel Vagimo. The three know each other well as well as the high-profile draft picks featured in the Kings system. He said he feels comfortable with Kobari and Fajimo, which boosted his confidence.
“He gave us the game we expected of him,” McClellan said. “He’s, for lack of a better team, (a) hound. He’s been on a lot of pucks. He ran his game really well. He had a couple good chances to score. I thought he was aggressive all night when he needed to be smart when he needed to be Good marks.”
It was also there in other necessary areas.
(Top photo of Kings goaltender Pheonix Copley saving a shot against the Blackhawks: Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press)